Anakin Skywalker: The Jedi That Could’ve Been

A close up of Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) with the hood of the Jedi robe he is wearing hiding most of his face. He looks angry and deeply troubled.

Author: Marisa Reyes-Pacheco

This article may or may not be very controversial for some Star Wars fans. Please remember, I am simply a girl on a blog. But if I know anything at all, it is that Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) is the antihero that audiences love to hate. Since the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the fall of Anakin Skywalker, also known as (spoiler:) Darth Vader. This trilogy includes some of the best films of the franchise: The Phantom Menace (1999), Attack of the Clones (2002) and Revenge of the Sith (2005). Sure, maybe they could’ve kept George Lucas as far away from the script as possible, but they definitely needed him in the writer’s room. Once destined to be a Jedi leader before eventually becoming one of the most powerful Sith Lords, how did a complex character like Anakin begin as a hero just to become one of the greatest antagonists of the series?

Anakin Skywalker was a young boy forced into slavery with his beloved mother. Had it not been for the Jedis stumbling upon Anakin and taking him for training, his life would have been lived in shackles. The boy had known trauma very well from a young age, setting off to train as a Jedi in order to hopefully come back to free his mother one day. This dream was never fulfilled, leading to his internal hatred for the Jedi Council. Being told that you are destined to save the galaxy? That puts an unimaginable amount of pressure onto a child, let alone one that only knew life in chains.

From his birth, Anakin was always doing what he was told to do. He followed (most of) the rules to try to become a Jedi, but when it was not possible for him to begin the Jedi trials, he turned to whatever source would allow him to become powerful. It isn’t very difficult to understand why a damaged, irresponsible person like Anakin was easily impressed by Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) (aka Darth Sidious) and his influence. After the death of his mother in Episode II by the Tusken Raiders, Anakin Skywalker kills every Tusken — including women and children — in the village. The only family he had, the major goal, the reason for doing any of it. Gone. This was the beginning of the end, igniting the anger Anakin had always had within him.

Anakin Skywalker is eventually led by Darth Sidious’ evil influence because of his promises of the dark side’s ability to stop people from dying. Skywalker sees visions of his once-secret wife, Padme (Natalie Portman) dying in childbirth and becomes Darth Vader, in hopes to save his wife. As part of the Dark Side, his goal is to destroy the Rebel Alliance.

Darth Vader was the evil embodiment of a leader that Anakin Skywalker had always wanted to be. In The Empire Strikes Back (1980), audiences heard the notorious “Luke, I am your father” line. Anakin, a son, finally had a son of his own. This is the one thing he clung to in order to maintain any sense of empathy he once had on the light side. This becomes more clear in Return of the Jedi (1983) when Darth Vader ultimately sacrifices himself to save his son, Luke Skywalker, and the galaxy.

Anakin Skywalker was a man that had lost more in his life than he had been given; a troubled person who was never simply asked if he needed help. Plagued by the persistent unfairness of life with a large role to fill and gradual diminishing hope for a better future, he took which route was the most attainable to him. Darth Vader was a lost boy who took the power he knew he possessed to attempt to become as powerful as his leaders before him, but ultimately failed due to his own arrogance and lack of responsibility. Was Anakin an antihero? A tragic villain who truly wished to be good, but didn’t have the capacity for it? While Darth Vader will forever be remembered as one of the best villains there ever was, nobody seems to talk about how he did it all for the people he loved the most.

Marisa Reyes-Pacheco | young Hayden Christensen enthusiast | KXSU Arts Reporter

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